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Things to do for fun.
Amazon.com has a reasonably-priced, reasonably-convenient music store. So I've bought a lot of things from it. Like everyone else on the planet with a Linux box, however, I find Amazon's refusal to just give me a freakin' zipball of the MP3s from my album completely and insanely obnoxious. I understand, Amazon—you want me to install your POS downloader spamware. Not going to happen, even if you could be bothered to build it for my platform.
Hey, maybe Amazon will need a favor from me someday. In the meantime, here's how to actually be able to bulk-download your albums from Amazon Cloud Player on Linux…
Project Gutenberg is one of the greatest projects ever. I was really sad to read the obituary of its founder when I went to grab a giant pile of Sherlock Holmes just now. I was moved to donate $50, which is about what I can afford, and far less than it is worth.
So I clicked the "donate by credit card" buttons, because I certainly won't have anything to do with PayPal. I was prompted for all the usual credit card processing information…plus my phone number and email. I didn't want to give this information, so I left it blank—only to be told that my donation would not be processed without a syntactically valid email address. Being the persistent sort, and really wanting to help Project Gutenberg, I went ahead and supplied
This is when I noticed that the transaction was being processed by PayPal.
Moral dilemma: Do I support PayPal, who I regard as crooks, or fail to support Project Gutenberg, who I regard as heroes? Tough one. My final conclusion was this: Having personally seen PayPal take money from a nonprofit I am involved with (X.Org), I want to strongly encourage other nonprofits not to be victimized by them. So, instead of $50, I am donating this blog post.
Perhaps I'll use our nearly-defunct Postal Service to send Project Gutenberg a check.
I purchased a book from the Google eBookstore today. Boy, I'll never do that again…
I've looking for fantasy to read on an upcoming trip, so I Googled "all-time best fantasy" just now. I carefully inspected eight different lists: specifically all the relevant lists in the first page of search results. Of those eight lists, six were trash. Here's a meta-review…
Here's the deal—I've trusted Blizzard Entertainment. Enough trust to invest $15/month of my money, and more recently $30/month, for a year. More importantly, enough to invest many, many hours of my time. Blizzard, meanwhile, hasn't done a single thing that I've noticed to earn that trust. It's time for me to stop now…
While doing some research for an upcoming paper, I came upon a 2008 blog post describing a special case of the following interesting problem:
[Updated 2009/12/14] The difficulty arises when both m and n are large. The obvious method is a rejection method: repeatedly pick a random symbol from the alphabet and check whether you've picked it already. If not, append it to your target number. The problem is that the duplicate check seems to require log m time even if you code it cleverly, giving an asymptotic performance of O(m log m). Hash tables can help some, but ultimately you're going to waste a lot of time checking for the unlikely case that you've generated a duplicate.
There were various solutions given in the comments, but none of them were optimal. A spoiler follows…
I've been a huge fan of The Onion, the satirical newspaper originally published by the University of Wisconsin, for about 15 years now. I've purchased their books and audiobooks, downloaded their videocasts to my TiVO, etc.
That ended tonight…
I won a poker tournament last night. It wasn't a big tournament: 20 people playing at an American Legion Hall in North Portland, with the rake mostly going to charity. $20 buy-in, with payouts of $225/$125/$75. By the time I bought a round of drinks and threw in some charity money, I came home with about $150…
Here's the answers to antonyms:
Explanations available on request.
I keep wanting to blog about my latest tiny piece of software, but I keep having one more bug or feature.
So instead, I've cooked up this little word game. Tell me what you think of it…